Illustrator and humorist Bruce McCall paints our imagined future — a supercharged, streamlined fantasyland that teeters on the edge of hysteria.

Why you should listen

A longtime contributor to the New Yorker, Bruce McCall is a humorist and illustrator whose best-known work draws on the big-shouldered hubris of the middle 1920s and the early 1950s to create a future paradise where the skies are fllled with zeppelins and every car has wings. He's a wry observer of contemporary life and a witty writer.

McCall began his career as an illustrator for car ads -- by his own account not a very good illustrator. He'd left the field and became a copywriter when, on a whim, he and a friend sent some humorous drawings to Playboy (at that time, 1970, it was a legit career move). He soon connected with the founders of the National Lampoon, a pioneering humor magazine, and went on to create some of their most enduring images -- finding in the 1970s countercultural media a rich audience for his satirical take on the Atomic Age. He's now working the same magic at the New Yorker.

His latest book is called Marveltown, and is exactly what it sounds like. According to Amazon, McCall's next book is called 50 Things to Do with a Book: (Now That Reading Is Dead).

Bruce McCall’s TED talks

Bruce McCall on the TED Blog

Art

Nostalgia for a future that never happened: Bruce McCall on TED.com

March 19, 2009

Bruce McCall paints a future that never happened — full of flying cars, polo-playing tanks and the RMS Tyrannic, “The Biggest Thing in All the World.” At Serious Play ’08, he narrates a brisk and funny slideshow of his faux-nostalgic art. (Recorded at Serious Play ’08, May 2008, in Pasadena, California. Duration: 13:01.) Watch Bruce […]

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Quotes from Bruce McCall

‘Faux-nostalgia’ is the achingly sentimental yearning for times that never happened.
Bruce McCall
Serious Play 2008 • 305K views Mar 2009
Funny, Beautiful
I work a lot in what I call ‘retrofuturism,’ which is looking back to see how yesterday viewed tomorrow.
Bruce McCall
Serious Play 2008 • 305K views Mar 2009
Funny, Beautiful